The Parallel Syndrome

by Mark Healey

It all happened so fast I could hardly believe it myself, but it really did happen! I am your average typical guy - nobody special. I wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, have lunch with my colleauges, go home, make dinner, go to sleep and wake up the following morning and begin my routine all over again. Sound exciting? Not in the least. But it is my dreams that keep my waking hours captivated with the impossible ( or seemingly so ). My life is very ordinary and for many years, the continuity of what I was doing each and every day began to wear me out. I wanted some excitement in my life; to be someone else for a change - perhaps to live the life of a famous person who was rich and powerful and who didn't have to worry about living paycheque to paycheque. Like I said, what happened to me would seem inconceivable to many. To fully understand the events that unfolded on that fateful day will have to be told from the very beginning.

It all happened on a Monday morning. My alarm woke me up at the typical hour much like it did every day of the week - 6am. Depending on how tired I was from the night before, I will either have a shower or turn on my computer - either surf the net or reply to emails. This is when it happened and it all happened so fast; it was like falling asleep and being zapped into a dream....however, I wasn't dreaming! While surfing the net, I came upon a website where you can chat with various 'characters' online and live out a cyber fantasy. One such character was a talent agent who could cast me in a very big budget movie. I guess to most, this would be just another chat line and if nothing else, a scam for these so called characters to take your money and cash in. Not this time! As I read through the site disclosure, for only ten dollars, I could live out my "fantasy" and virtually be "anyone" I wanted to be. Ten dollars didn't seem like a whole lot of money to me, so I didn't think I had anything to lose. I was becoming increasingly curious and the idea of immersing myself into a fantasy, suddenly became rather exciting. As soon as I entered my credit card number into the site, I clicked a button and the next thing I knew, I was in unfamiliar surroundings.....

"It is a rather good script if I may say so myself", said Baxter Turner, a Talent agent with Turner Entertainment Inc. I can only let out a measly reply of, " huh?" I was seated in a chair directly in front of THIS "Hollywood " Director, only this wasn't Hollywood - but in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada! While Mr. Turner continued to discuss the script with me - a Mobster type film, it suddenly dawned on me that I was no longer in the comfort of my own home, in front of my computer, getting ready for work. I was now transformed into another world that looked eerily different from my own world. I had to break away from Mr. Turner for a few minutes so I could compose myself. I needed some time to look outside and see what I had gotten myself into. How did I get here? What was I doing here and most importantly, how would I get back? The world I was in appeared considerably similar to my own, but different somehow. I couldn't put my finger on it, but this environment conjured up a

different flare and I couldn't explain the difference. And it got weirder and weirder as I slowly immersed myself into this new world! For one thing, my family in this world did not exist ( I looked them up!)

After I had taken several minutes to wrap my head around this new environment, I quickly returned to Mr. Turner's office and we resumed discussing the new movie I was going to star in.

"Hey", I said to myself, "this could be cool!" I no longer tried to debate in my mind on how I got here - I no longer cared. I surely got more than I bargained for!

As the days quickly passed, I was becoming quite used to my new routine in the new world. I was cast in a movie called, "Life as we know it" and I was working with actors who were big name stars, only I had never heard of them in my world! In a matter of days, I would learn that I was a huge star, much of the time, traveling across North America, and Europe - from set to set, living in and out of hotels and only after these projects were completed, was I able to re-locate to my five bedroom home just outside of Toronto! I was living the life of a king; I had servants, drivers, cooks, anyone and everyone who was at my beck and call at a moment's notice. I no longer had to worry about finances, I could work whenever I wanted and take frequent vacations with the snap of a finger. I truly believed this was the life I was born to live and I quickly forgot about the old world I was once a part of. I also quickly realized that I had fans. Often times when I had to go out for something, a swarm of people would gather around me asking for my autograph or trying to grab the shirt off of my back - anything that would be considered a "momento" to take home with them. Who was I kidding? I was loving it - I was loving that fact that I was now living out my dream and I was no longer considered a "nobody". I was loving that I was being accepted by society, that I was important, powerful - that I had something to offer the world. There were emails, letters and even gifts from adoring fans. I was living the "good life" and I felt unstoppable, even invincible , that those who knew me, truly cared about the kind of person I had become ( or always was?)

But then something changed!

it took only a couple of weeks, but by this time, I was going out practically every night: dinners, parties, press engagements and midnight movie premiers! As my popularity continued to soar, my days no longer became "mine" as my calendar was booked solid from 6am until 10pm every night of the week! I was constantly being told where to go, what to eat, what to wear, who to see and how long to stay! My life had become filled with "things" I no longer wanted to do and it was killing me to stay focused every minute of every hour and hating it!! It occurred to me that my so called adoring fans did not adore ME - they only adored what I was or what I did;it was the several characters in a movie or a TV show that they had either fallen in love with someone who they could relate to or indentify with.It wasn'tME that they loved.When I was home, I spent most of my time alone. Nobody called except my agent or my publicist and it was always about business. No social calls, no "how are you doing" or " let's go for drinks or to dinner". And then it occurred to me: I didn't have a single friend in this world! My family in this world, as I mentioned earlier, didn't exist so there were no Friday night dinners, or Sunday BBQ's! It may have taken awhile to come to grips with this realization, but I no longer wanted to be a part of this world anymore. All the money and fame in the world did nothing for me except make me feel more miserable than ever. The true fact was, I was happier when I was miserable! Perhaps, we all are to some extent.....

What frightened me more than anything now was the possibility of me being stuck in this world forever! I guess things are not exactly what they seem and it took me a long time to grasp that notion. I didn't know how to find my way back to my own world but as I looked around my house.....all those beautiful furnishings, my open concept kitchen, the pool, the tennis court and 4 servants who I barely got to know, seemed meaningless andover valued! If living this kind of life meant living it alone, I no longer wanted it and would soon spend the rest of my days here praying to return to my own world. And.....that is what I did...prayed long and hard! I didn't know how I was going to get back. Hell, I didn't even know how I got here in the first place but I was going to try! So, I did this.....I fixed myself a very stiff drink ( a double gin and rye ), another and another and another until I could no longer stay awake. As I slept, I had conjured up images of my old life: waking up at 6am every morning, hopping in the shower, having breakfast and getting ready to go to my ever "boring"office to begin work...to attend office meetings, go to lunch with my boss etc. And then it all became very clear....

My old life was the dream, the life I had been yearning for all along! This life of fame and fortune was my REAL life, the kind that I had to live with until the end of my existence. I dreamt about this world for many, many days and I was about to learn my biggest lesson yet; I could take the life I was living now and make changes to it. I did not have to live this way anymore. I could suddenly leave this life and perhaps one day I will "wake up" in front of that computer and worry about where my next meal was going to come from or whether I could pay this month's Hydro bill and above all, to wake up and notbeambushed by mobs of people.I just want to be able to walk out my front door to go out to eat or to the grocery store without being harrassed by those who don't genuinely care about me. I would have my family and friends, and those who truly love me for who I am and not what I am. I could change all that in a heartbeat....if I wanted to.

The following day, I was getting ready to attend a Red Carpet Event. It was almost 5pm and instead of getting in the shower, I went to my computer and turned it on......you'll never believe what happened then!

******THE END******

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